Prayer and Praying: May 2004 Archives

Just when you thought it was safe another burst of reading Garrigou-Lagrange gives us this tender morsel to chew upon:

from Christian Perfection and Contemplation
Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P.

On the contrary, in the supernatural life whatever belongs to the normal way of sanctity and in the majority of cases is absolutely or morally necessary to attain it, is essentially ordinary. In other words, whatever in the supernatural life is accomplished in accordance with even the superior laws of full development, is ordinary in itself, though these laws are infintely more elevated than those of our nature. . . .

Likewise here on earth, the summit in the normal development of the life of grace, no matter how elevated, should not be called essentially estraordinary (per se) altlhough it may be rare or extraordinary in fact, like the perfect generosity it supposes. The summit is called sanctity, even lofty sanctity, which implies heroic virtues. . . .

It follows, then, that whatever in the majority of cases is either absolutely or morally necessary to attain this summit is not essentially extraordinry. On the contrary, these things belong to and make up the plenitude of the normal order willed by God. In studying this point, we must take care not to confound what is eminently useful for reaching sanctity in the majority of cases with what is observed in the majority of pious souls, with what is common among them; for many of these are still far from the goal. Consequently, without admitting that the mystical prayers are essentially extraordiary, we can distinguish them from the common forms of prayer, because the former suppose in fact an eminent or superior grace.

The passive purifications of the senses and of the spirit (a mystical state) and infused contemplation, even in its highest degree, which is realized in the transforming union, are, as St. Joh of the Cross teaches, generally necessary to the perfect purification and sanctification of the soul. Therefore they should not be called essentially extraordinary, although in fact they may be quite rare because of the common mediocrity of souls.

"Because of the common mediocrity of souls." What an indictment. As I read it, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange says that, in essence, a person does not achieve Union because they don't really want to. I do not approach God more closely because I have other, more important things to do with my time. My soul languishes in mediocrity, not because I haven't received the calling, but because I've decided to let the answering machine pick up and I'll get around to it when I have more time.

I hate that! I hate to admit it! I deny it! I rail at it! I despise it! And more than anything else I know it is true. I do not approach God more closely, not because He holds me at arm's length, but because I have chosen not to do so. Oh yes, I make excuses and I can think of ten-thousand and more reasons why I need to prepare myself and do other things first. But they are all a fabrication. They are designed specifically to keep me from finding my way to where God wants me to be, and, in fact, I have no one to blame but myself. How humbling to realize that you are one of the "mediocre souls." And by this, I don't think Garrigou-Lagrange means to say that some souls are greater and some smaller (although that may be true as well). But rather, I thnk he implies that there are those who care about the state of their soul more than they care about their finances, their wardrobe, their car, or what have you. And then there are those like me, who find something else more important to care about for a while.

O Lord, what a mess.

Fr. Reginald, pray for me. Your words have awakened me to a fever-pitch state and now I cast about, caught in the net, knowing that I am the only cause of my failure. Pray to obtain for me the graces and virtues necessary--the docility, the humility, the charity, the patience, and the strength of will--to ascend to God as far as will can take me. And then pray for me that I might remain open to God's action and ascend to where He is calling me.

Oh Father, obtain for me these graces through the hand of our most Holy Mother, and even if not, thank you so much for your obedience and your determination to serve God's people. In so doing, you have served me best of all. Thank you. Lord Jesus Christ, if there is anything lacking in this good man's stores, by virtue of the good he has done for me in turning me back to you, please make it up for him and make it overflow with riches. Thank you Lord for such good servants, may I become one as well.


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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Prayer and Praying category from May 2004.

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